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Gas storage hearing starts today

Howard Phillips, with some of the  11,000 objections to the Planning Inspectorate against Halites application for gas storage.

Howard Phillips, with some of the 11,000 objections to the Planning Inspectorate against Halites application for gas storage.

Energy firm Halite will begin a High Court hearing today in the hope of re-igniting controversial plans to store gas underneath Over Wyre.

Halite wants to store 900 million cubic metres of natural gas in 19 salt caverns under the River Wyre.

The proposals were rejected in April by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), with the planning inspectorate suggesting they could only be approved if the suitability of the area could be proven.

The Judicial Review in London will challenge the decision to turn down planning consent.

The process will not overturn the Government’s decision but it could be quashed and DECC would have to consider the plans again.

Today, campaigners who fought Halite for more than a decade, said all they could do is wait for the court’s decision.

June Jackson, from Stalmine, said: “Nothing is certain yet and we’ve just been left in limbo like we have been for quite a while.

“I’ve spoken to quite a few people and they just want to see an end to it all.

“They can’t understand why it keeps going on and on despite being rejected so often. We are so fed up of it.”

Halite, which replaced the American gas storage operation Canatxx, was prevented from going ahead with the plans in April because of the suitability of the site’s geology.

This was the fourth application – three by Canatxx, one by Halite – to be rejected.

Howard Phillips, vice chairman of Protect Wyre Group, added: “We just hope the Secretary of State’s original decision not to grant 
permission will be upheld by the court.

“We want the Secretary of State’s decision to stand but we have got to be very patient with the whole system.”

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “I confirm that our case is listed to be heard in the High Court commencing on the morning of December 10 and has been set aside for up to one and a half days.

“It is possible we will get a judgement at the end of the hearing, or the judgement could be reserved to be handed down at a later date.

“A reserved judgment is not uncommon in a case like this.”

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